-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- The number of people now
ill in a hepatitis A outbreak that may be tied to a frozen
berry/pomegranate mix continues to rise, U.S. health officials said
As of June 4, 49 people in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada,
Arizona, Utah, Hawaii and California have been reported ill with
hepatitis A that may be connected to Townsend Farms Organic
Anti-Oxidant Blend frozen berry and pomegranate mix, according to
an update issued Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
On Tuesday, Oregon-based Townsend Farms recalled the frozen
berry mixes, which were sold to Costco and Harris Teeter stores.
The mixes were sold under the Townsend Farms label at Costco and
under the Harris Teeter brand at that chain of stores, the
According to the World Health Organization, hepatitis A
illnesses typically arise within 14 and 28 days of infection.
Symptoms may include nausea, fever, lethargy, jaundice and loss of
appetite. There's a vaccine against hepatitis A, and it may ease
symptoms if given soon after exposure to the virus.
Data from 26 of the 49 patients affected in the new outbreak
shows that 44 percent have been hospitalized, with ages ranging
from 2 to 71 years. The dates of the start of illnesses range from
April 29 to May 24.
Nineteen of 25 patients who were interviewed said they ate
Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend frozen berry and
pomegranate mix. Nineteen patients said they bought the product
from Costco markets, but investigators are still trying to
determine if the product was also sold at other stores besides
Costco and Harris Teeter, the CDC said.
Costco has removed the product from its shelves and is notifying
members who purchased the product since late February 2013. As of
Tuesday, Harris Teeter Supermarkets has also voluntarily pulled the
frozen organic berry blend from its store shelves, the
Preliminary laboratory analyses of specimens from two patients
suggest the hepatitis A strain responsible for the outbreak is rare
in North America but is common in Africa and the Middle East. The
strain was pinpointed as the cause of a recent hepatitis A outbreak
in Europe linked to frozen berries and to a 2012 outbreak in
British Columbia associated with a frozen berry blend with
pomegranate seeds from Egypt, the CDC said.
The label on the Townsend Farms product says it contains
products from the United States, Argentina, Chile and Turkey.
Speaking to the
AP, Bill Gaar, a lawyer representing Townsend Farms, said
last week that the recalled product did contain pomegranate seeds
from Turkey. The Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend was the only Townsend
Farms product to contain such seeds, he added.
"We do have very good records, we know where the (pomegranate seeds) came from, we're looking into who the broker is and we're sourcing it back up the food chain to get to it," Gaar told AP.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases has more about
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